By Sharon Lee Song
I wrote this statement on the inside front cover of my journal: “I need to establish a rhythm that feels sane, reflects a deep love for God, and a respect for how He made me.” Lately this statement has been the meditation and longing of my life. In these past months, there has been a deepening of the truth of who I am and who I am not.
I shared in January that I felt called to explore joining a holistic wellness ministry called Alive & Well Women. I never expected that this exploration would lead to more clarity of who God has made me to be, and ultimately that I was not called to join this ministry at this time! So here’s what happened. The more I tried to move forward with creating my role for that ministry, or wrap my head around it, I felt anxious, confused, and unsettled. I would talk about it, think about it, and pray about it, and I still felt that way. Finally, the truth hit me. I am not an apostolic visionary person. What’s that now?! Some people may use other terminology for this, but in my own words, an apostolic visionary person is someone who is gifted at creating something out of nothing. These people are church planters, entrepreneurs, people who start ministries and businesses and more. They’re amazing people. And I am not one of those amazing people.
When I took a look at my life and my way of being, I recognized some things about myself. Just because I’m not an apostolic visionary person does not mean that I don’t have leadership or creative gifts. I was reassured that I was not trying to shortsell myself in this. What I do is I join movements and organizations that already exist that I am convicted and led to be a part of, invest in them, and create things within those existing frameworks.
Strangely enough, I realize that I probably need to spend more time mourning the loss of the illusion that I was or wanted to be like all of these apostolic visionary people that I admire so much. I need to continue to let go by accepting my limitations, that I am not these things I convinced myself that I could or should be. After some reflection, I saw that the battle against two forces are still very much at work within me — my ego and control.
I am a recovering strive-aholic. My tendency is to take control of my life and make things happen. My desire to make my life happen and not be dependent upon anyone, especially God, and has been at work my whole life. Obviously, this comes from several different sources such as my general brokenness, and systems in this world that reinforce that I am in control, etc. Essentially, I want to be the god of my own life. I have to say that recently when I’ve heard on TV or other sources of media the worldview that “you can do anything you want,” I have cringed, shaken my head, and said out loud, “That’s just not true.” Especially in light of my acceptance of my limitations, recognizing who I am not, it has taken a lot of work in deconstructing that value or worldview that has taken up residence in my mind for so long.
While accepting my limitations has been somewhat troubling and challenging, it has also brought sweetness of relief, joy, contentment and deep gratitude and surrender. Part of this came through some timely loving and affirming words from people who know me. The words reminded me of who I am, how God has made me, and how His love is uniquely channeled through my gifts and ways of being. One person shared the point or concept of focusing on having the most Kingdom impact through who I am, and that brought a sharpened awareness of how I do this. People experience God’s love through me in one-on-one relationships, in small groups, and through my words (written and verbal). I see this and have known this. And I want to live this out fully as a humble servant.
From this, I felt like I was settling back and rooting into myself. I started to see that there was an abundance of gifts and opportunities before me to love and serve others, instead of striving after things that were not meant for me. I’ve experienced a deep sense of gratitude and contentment of the basic everyday things that I’ve been given, that unfortunately had gotten lost in all of the striving.
I am called to be the best friend I can be, the best sister, daughter, and aunt I can be, the best spiritual director I can be, the best yoga instructor I can be, the best administrator I can be, and so on. These things are all right in front of me. And I can’t and don’t want to do this alone. Part of accepting my limitations has included a profound and humbling recognition of my need for the body of Christ, and considering others as better than myself (Philippians 2:3-4). I leave you with Scripture that will be mine to chew on for this season to come, as I continue to be led by the Spirit in accepting my limitations, rejoicing as I continue to discover and embrace how I uniquely share God’s love, and pressing more deeply into the community to live this out with:
1 Corinthians 12:15-20 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
Sharon Lee Song lives and works in South Los Angeles with an urban ministry community. Inspired by her own transformation through self-care and soul care, Sharon became a certified personal trainer, Holy Yoga instructor, and spiritual director. She’s committed to using what she’s learned from her training and from Alive & Well Women to support others in living healthy, sustainable, urban spiritual lives.